Urban Farming

House Plant Catalog

I recently went to a greenhouse in New Hampshire with a friend of mine who wanted to create her own plant table. While there, I bought about 9 small and medium plants with the hopes of having them grow taller and larger for means of propagation. After coming home and realizing that I had little to no space to maintain these plants, I redid my current plant arrangements only to discover that several of my plants were in pretty bad shape. In an effort to change this, I decided to begin cataloging (once a week) the uptake, mass and physical appearance of each of my plants. It’s important to note that the initial weight of the plants will be different than the repotted weight. The repotted weight will help me deduce plant biomass every week (of course there is uncertainty due to moisture content–more on that later). This whole process will be an extreme effort because I’m not sure how many plants I have. Right now, I’ll begin with a set of 13.

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Check out this massive plant at the greenhouse!

Repotting Growing Medium

If you’ve read my previous post then you know that I am very paranoid about outside soil. So much so that I regularly repot my plants when bought from a nursery or Home Depot. Currently, since a ton of my mint succumbed to the aphid apocalypse, I had extra plastic, white pots (no holes for drainage) to repot the plants in. After washing and disinfecting the containers, I put in a 1/2″ layer of clay pebbles and perlite–this would help with any over-watering.

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Clay and Perlite are great with handling overwatering dituations if there are no drainage holes in the pot.

Afterwards, I rehydrated two bricks of coconut coir and mixed it with perlite and a large amount of vermicompost. This will be the first time I’m using vermicompost with my plants. Each of the plants were potted using this recipe.

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Repotting plants

Fittonia; Nerve Plant

I purchased my fittonia plant, most commonly called a Nerve Plant, from Home Depot for about $5.99 in January 2019. It was fairly small and had beautiful layers of pink and green dispersed throughout its foliage.

Quick Online Facts:

  • Native to tropical rainforests in South America, mainly Peru.
  • Light: low to medium (indirect)
  • High Humidity
  • Prefers well drained, moist soil
  • Water moderately
  • Grows 3 to 6 inches in height with a spread of 12 to 18 inches in width

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Fittonia; Almost one year old

My Observations

  • It likes a ton of water
  • It can tolerate medium to low amounts of light
  • It does not propagate well with cuttings submerged in water

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Fittonia; A flower had grown!

For several months I watered it similarly to my succulents–about once a week. I noticed that especially in the hot, summer months, the fittonia would sporadically collapse until I fed it more water. Once it received water, it would expand back to its full size. It wasn’t until I used a wick watering method did the fittonia really begin to grow. Since September, the fittonia rapidly grew in width. It also grew a pretty interesting flower–apparently the fittonia rarely sprouts flowers indoors.

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Repotted Fittonia

If given the right amount of water, the fittonia is a pretty easy plant to grow. Because it does not need a ton of light, it can be positioned pretty far away from the window, in fact, too much light and it may suffer leaf burn. My main issue with the fittonia is that it doesn’t seem particularly easy to propagate, but this may come down to changing my current method of propagation. Because the soil was fairly hard and spongy–common Home Depot soil, I decided to repot the fittonia. It weighed in at around 373g while its post-repotting weight was 840g. It’s important to note here that the fittonia is not currently attached to another wick system since the growing medium was fairly moist from having to rehydrate the coconut coir. In an effort to reduce the shock the fittonia might be experiencing, I fed it about a cup of fertilizer.

Syngonium podophyllum; Arrowhead

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arrowhead
Arrowhead: The beginnings

I purchased the arrowhead plant around the same time I purchased my fittonia and purple passion. It was purchased from Home Depot for about $5.99 in January 2019. This plant was fairly leggy and the leaves were smaller than the palm of my hand. From what I had read, the arrowhead plant is suppose to be very easy to grow.  It can grow either as a creeper, where it may need some support or it can be grown as a groundcover plant. Right now my arrowhead seems more like a groundcover plant than a creeper.

Quick Online Facts:

  • Native to tropical rainforests in Latin America (Mexico to Bolivia)
  • Light: low to medium (indirect)
  • High Humidity
  • Prefers well drained, moist soil
  • Water moderately
  • Size varies

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Side profile of arrowhead

My Observations

  • It likes a ton of water
  • It can tolerate medium to low amounts of light

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Front profile of repotted arrowhead

I’ve had mild success with propagating the arrowhead. And for the most part, it can tolerate less water compared to the fittonia. After placing my fittonia on a wick system, I had also done the same for my arrowhead. While arrowhead likes to have a lot of water, it is also recommended that it needs time to dry out before the next cycle of watering. This did not seem to be the case with my arrowhead. It responded positively to the copious amount of water cycled through it on a daily basis. In fact, it grew pretty massive ever since the wick system was put in place. Because I was still harboring the arrowhead in the home depot pot and soil, I decided to repot it.

It weighed in at around 435g pre-repot and 900g post-repot. It’s important to note that these pots and growing medium are about twice as large compared to its previous arrangement. The arrowhead was also fed a cup of fertilizer after planting and is not currently on the wick system.

Codiaeum Variegatum; Croton petra

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Croton Petra: The beginning

I received the croton petra from the greenhouse in New Hampshire this past Saturday for about $3.49. It’s a relatively small plant with vivid yellows, reds and dark greens. I remember my mom having the croton petra as an outdoor plant in Hawaii; it can grow pretty tall.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted croton petra

The croton petra weighed about 76g pre-repotting and about 752g post-repotting. At this time I don’t have many comments about this plant since I have yet to experience growing it. It stands at about 7.5″ tall by 9.5″ wide with around 7 leaves. The leaves are very waxy and a bit sharp towards its vertex. It has its own place in front of the window since it needs a ton of light. We shall see how and if it will grow–it just snowed today!

Maranta Leuconeura var Erythroneura; Prayer Plant

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Prayer Plant: The beginning

The prayer plant was another small plant that caught my eye in New Hampshire. It was just $3.49–seemed like a steal! It’s usually more droopy than this during the day, whereas during the night, the leaves fold back up as if its leaves were hands in prayer–aka the name prayer plant.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Prayer Plant

The prayer plant weighed at around 86g pre-repotting and about 693g post-repotting. It stands at about 7″ tall by 9″ wide with around 8 leaves and one tiny shoot. The prayer plant’s leaves are absolutely gorgeous. It has pink veins and different shades of green dispersed throughout its leaves. The leaves feel a bit like parchment paper with a tinge of waxiness.

Begonia Rex; Froggy Hybrid

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Froggy: The beginnings

Begonias have 1000’s of different varieties. This breed seems to be a hybrid nicknamed Froggy. Froggy was another one of the plants purchased from New Hampshire for about $4.99. It’s bright green leaves and dark green border creates a really nice contrast and almost looks like the skin of an amazon poison dart frog.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted froggy

Froggy weighed about 241g pre-repotting and about 766g post-repotting. It stands at around 3″ tall by 10″ wide and has around 12 large leaves and a cluster of 15 smaller ones. The leaves feel kind of soft, but most likely resemble wax paper, it’s such a cool strain! There are also areas of prickly hairs, similar to a cactus or a venus fly trap. Froggy is positioned in front of the window for ample lighting.

Stromanthe Triostar

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Stromanthe: The beginnings

I bought my stromanthe from a tiny nursery next to the Harvard arboretum in Massachusetts. Its papery leaves look like they’ve been painted with pastel water colors. It’s a gorgeous plant and I bought it for around $9.99 in mid-October.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Stromanthe

The stromanthe weighed in at around 118g pre-repotting and 780g post-repotting. It stands at around 4″ tall and 8″ wide with almost 15 leaves or so. Some of the leaves are browning. This may have been due to letting the soil dry out as well as the leaves since it seems like the leaves need some level of misting. The stromanthe is also placed in front of the window for ample lighting but it is slightly behind my very tall and narrow bay leaf plant. It will be interesting to see what it takes to get this plant to full height.

Ficus Elastica; Rubber Tree

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Rubber Tree: The beginning

I bought the rubber tree from the greenhouse in New Hampshire for about $5.99 this past Saturday. It’s dark green leaves really stood out to me as did its glossy sheen. These plants can grow extremely tall if given the opportunity.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted rubber tree

The rubber tree weighed in at 240g pre-repotting and 711g post-repotting. It’s around 7″ tall and 5″ wide with around 4 large leaves and 3 smaller leaves at the bottom. It has a fairly thick stem, very similar in size to my bay leaf’s stem–seems almost woody.

Spathiphyllum; Peace Lily

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Peace Lily: The beginning

The peace lily was another plant I purchased from the NH greenhouse for about $6.99. It’s a small peace lily, but has ample room and nutrients to grow! My friend purchased two large peace lilies that were absolutely gorgeous, I hope my peace lily can reach those heights and levels of foliage eventually! This is only type of flowering plant I have in my apartment that actually smells nice! 🙂

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted peace lily

Apparently, the peace lily is a very easy plant to grow. Like the fittonia, if it hasn’t been watered for weeks, it will spring back up at the first instance of water in all its tugor glory, but it won’t bloom often if you forget to water it. At pre-repotting the peace lily weighed 253g while at post-repotting the peace lily weighed 843g. Currently it is about a foot tall and a foot wide at its maxima. There are over 20 leaves and about 3 full fledged flowers and 1 that’s currently unfolding. I noticed a tinge of dark brown at the ends of the leaves. I am not sure if this was the case at the greenhouse. I will have to watch for that. Brown tips could mean that there are nutrient deficiencies which could be a result of a microbe war where minimal nutrients are available to the plant and thus are being diverted to other areas of the plant deemed more important–such as new growth. Or it could potentially mean that the roots are suffocating. We’ll have to wait and see what unfolds.

Peperomia Frost

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Frost: The beginning

The frost is another plant I got from NH for about $5.99. You can see that I was pretty frugal about my plant spending in NH and thus placed $6.99 as the largest denomination I would spend per plant. Seemed reasonable at the time, didn’t expect to walk out with 9 plants though. The frost is a pretty awesome looking plant. The white layer of what looks like congealed cornstarch glue over a plane of green is incredible. The leaves are super waxy and the plant is very delicate–I noticed this during repotting.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Frost

Like Begonias, thousands of Peromias exist in all shapes and varieties. They almost seem like a cross breed between Begonias and succulents–but they’re not. While most of my plants were fairly easy to repot, the frost wasn’t. It tended to fall apart and I am a bit worried about its overall health since the repotting. I’ll have to keep a close eye on this guy. Pre-repotting it weighed in at 246g and post-repotting it weighed in at 829g. It’s around 4″ tall by about 8″ wide and it has at least over 15 leaves. It’s very similar in size to Froggy. I have a few other leaves soaking in water to see if they’ll root. These were the leaves that fell off the root network during repotting. I’ve placed this guy in front of the window for ample lighting.

Hoya Carnosa; Wax Plant

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Hoya: The beginnings

I bought the hoya for $6.99 in NH at the behest of my partner. He really liked the texture of the leaves, it’s definitely the waxiest of the wax leaved plants. It also has some pretty cool hues of dark greens and reddish browns. A thin vine hangs out at the top of the plant. A pretty cool addition to my collection.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Hoya

From what I’ve been reading, hoyas seem like the easiest plants (next to succulents) to grow. It stores water in its very waxy leaves in case there are times of drought. This makes them a very hardy plant (compared to Begonias). Also they seem they thrive in either humid or arid environments and they can handle any level of light. This an opportunist. It’s pretty incredible the various conditions it can handle. Lets see if a Boston winter is one of them. The hoya weighed in at 173g pre-repotting and 714g post-repotting. It’s vine is about 11″ tall whereas the leaves stand at around 5″ in height. The hoya is about 7″ wide with about 15 leaves. I don’t think I’ll have many problems with the hoya.

Peperomia Tricolor; Red Edge Peperomia

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Red Edge Peperomia: The beginning

I bought the red edge peperomia from NH for about $3.49. I had no idea it was related to the frost peperomia. This is a really cool looking plant. It had colors very similar to the stromathe, but in a slightly different pattern. I really like how the edges are slightly red, it’s a pretty cool effect. The leaves feel pretty thick and slightly waxy. It’s glossy, but not as glossy as the frost. Its stems are a lot thicker than the frost’s, in fact, the stems seem a lot more similar to the rubber tree despite it being non-woody.

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Red Edge Peperomia

It’s name is quite long so I’m going to nickname it Red Edge for now. It weighed in at around 80g pre-repotting and 740g post-repotting. It’s about 4″ in height and about 7″ in width. It has around 6 large leaves and 4 smaller leaves. There are a couple of shoots that look like they’re developing new leaves. About two of the leaves have long strips of leaf missing, I’m not sure why this is the case. It does not look like there are pests attached to the plant, but I did notice a few black pepper splotches along a few of the leaves. It does not look like leaf burn, so I’ll have to watch for whatever develops. You’ll notice that I haven’t gone into pests or pest treatment yet and that’s because I’ll only talk about those once I experience and handle it. I’m not going to give unsolicited advice until I know what I’m talking about–or at least that’s what I think I do.

Begonia Rex; Fuzzy

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Fuzzy: The beginning

Remember how I mentioned that I didn’t realize frost and red edge were both peperomias? Well, I also didn’t realize that froggy and fuzzy were both begonias. I mean now when I look at begonias, they definitely look a lot more like fuzzy than froggy. It’s really cool how these plants have such different looks and features, yet they’re from the same breed(?). Anyways, I bought fuzzy from NH for $2.99. What a deal. Fuzzy has some cool brownish-blackish splotches on lime green leaves–it kind of looks like a radioactive animal hide. But oh my goodness, the leaves are sooooo fuzzy and soft. The hairs actually look like the same hairs along froggy’s edges (go figure).

Quick Online Facts:

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Repotted Fuzzy

Fuzzy weighed in at 19g pre-repotting and 553g post-repotting. It has a pretty size-able container to grow in. Currently it’s slightly shorter than 4″ and around 4.5″ wide. It has around 6 leaves and 2 smaller leaves (looks like a dicot) forming. The edges of the leaves are slightly singed. This may have been due to its very small container it was previously in. This might go away now that it has more legroom for its roots. I’ve positioned this guy next to Frost.

Tradescantia Zebrina; Spiderwort Wandering Jew

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Wandering Jew: The beginning

I was gifted the wandering jew from a friend of mine this past November. Her boyfriend was propagating some cuttings from their much larger wandering jew which functioned as an outdoor plant. It so pretty. It has beautiful pink and magenta hued leaves with sprinkles of glitter. The leaves are quite waxy, but not very thick. It’s definitely a vine plant.

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Repotted Wandering Jew

I messed up while repotting it. The vines had an intertwined root network and so it was difficult to divide it. Unfortunately a ton of the roots fell off the much larger vines. In order to save it, 4 of the vines are currently soaking in water in order to be re-rooted. I’m not too worried about that since I had successfully rooted a few others. One of the vines that did have roots attached was planted in a much smaller pot. I did not weigh these vines because they’re all over the place right now and once they’re centralized in a single pot, then I’ll weigh and measure them all out accordingly.

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Repropagating

As you can see a ton of the wandering jews, frost, stromanthe, fittonia, a couple of arrowhead and a purple passion are soaking inn water in the hopes that they will sprout roots. Some of the fittonia is not happy having soggy legs, so we’ll see what happens. Here are a few more pictures of where these new plants are currently set up along the three out of the four windows in my apartment’s living room.

First Window

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First Window: Arrowhead, Red Edge, Fittonia, Hoya and Peace Lily

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Full view of the first window

Second Window

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Second Window: Fuzzy and Frost

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Full View of the second window

Fourth Window

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Fourth Window: Froggy, Rubber Plant, Prayer Plant and Stromanthe

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Fourth Window: Croton Petra

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Full view of the fourth window

Anyways, that’s it. Happy planting!

Author

smundon@bu.edu

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